What’s in a name

I am a doughnut –

Food and cake paintings provide a rich source of inspiration and this subject is where Andrew Holmes is perhaps better known.

Whilst Andrew plans a series of paintings under an initial group title, it is  during the process where he then determines how this will be reflected and when individual titles are attributed.

a rose is a rose is a doughnut -122 x 152 cm - Oil on canvas
a rose is a rose is a doughnut -122 x 152 cm – Oil on canvas

Ironic use in the name for a painting is inspired on many occasions by artists working in other mediums, for example; music or literature present  abundant associated links. At the time Andrew was painting the three pink doughnuts, (above), his daughter was studying English and American Literature, and in particular the writers from the “Lost Generation” based in Paris in the 1920’s. She recounted that after a falling out, Ernest Hemmingway wrote “a rose is a rose is an onion” of  Gertrude Stein’s book Sacred Emily. On hearing this, the painting of three pink doughnuts duly became a rose is a rose is a doughnut.

 In cakes and sweets the colours and textures are familiar to us, suggest pleasure, embodying our more indulgent senses. Andrew is interested in the emotions we experience within this subject and wants to explore this further.

A study of form plays an important role in describing why he selects a particular composition and doughnuts have featured regularly in Andrew’s portfolio of work over the years because in these, he finds there is a monumental, at times precarious element.

In broader terms this reflection of a simple shape appeals to Andrew’s interest in science and a fascination with the findings being discovered of deeper space and worlds beyond ours.

Toroid - 81cm x 102 cm -Oil on Canvas
Toroid – 81cm x 102 cm -Oil on Canvas

When we see these cakes in a bakery window they entice and persuade with promises of delight and satisfaction. The choices available echo aspects of daily life and provides parallels – the simple ring version with curves and a void connects with a more sensual dialogue, referencing subliminal symbolism perhaps not considered.  Throughout our lifetime the desires for pleasure and fulfilment from our experiences are instinctive, unknowingly foods remind and evoke this more intuitive response.

The bolder, jam filled pastries could also be regarded as an allegory for the human condition. Our expectations suggest hidden riches within, however the pleasure taken also hints at a sense of guilt and risks exposing our fragility.

it didn't have to be like this - 122x152cm - Oil on canvas
it didn’t have to be like this – 122x152cm – Oil on canvas

 Whether as a solitary object, or propped together, we can observe, interact and respond, in these paintings Andrew aims to draw attention to how these make us feel.

Andrew says:

“The pieces appear as traditional studies in style and content, presenting a superficial normality overlaying a subtext of desire and temptation. This message reflects the layering of our conscious and unconscious lives. Asking, are we free to enjoy what we desire or do we feel socially constrained to secretly experience gratification?

In the paintings, the depiction of shapes, glossy and wet surfaces, liquids dripping and pouring, are indirect references to the erotic and sensual. The images reflect components of the human condition; desire, temptation, happiness, delight, contentment, satisfaction, envy and guilt interweaves through our material and spiritual lives. We do not need to experience them, but, without consequences, we always do.”

Aphrodite and Adonis – 70x100cm – oil on panel

Each painting created by an artist becomes an important representation of themselves and in development, ideas for a title may become more apparent but much like after a child is born, a previously cherished name can sometimes, then seem inappropriate.

When sourcing a title for a more recent work  Andrew references a well known piece of history –  At a rally in 1963 with 120,000 people attending in front of The Schöneberg Rathaus, Berlin,  John F Kennedy made an impassioned speech declaring his solidarity with the embattled  city : All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words, ‘Ich bin ein Berliner “.  It is a moot point that the inclusion of the word “ein” may have provided an incorrect translation. The word “Berliner” is a German word for a filled pastry and an urban legend  remains suggesting that John F Kennedy had actually said “I am a jam doughnut” – whether this is correct or not, the story lives on and still raises the odd wry smile.

It was a proud if vulnerable moment and in a quiet nod to this, the title I am a doughnut was chosen for the recently completed  painting below.

I am a doughnut – oil on canvas – 61x81cm. -Long listed for the RA Summer Exhibition, 2016. SOLD


For Andrew these works provide a relevant language. Despite the many other observations Andrew intends to give thought to, he regularly returns to further develop this area of study.

Update May 2016

‘I am a doughnut’ was Long-listed for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2016.

For Andrew Holmes website, please see : 


To contact Andrew, please email info@andrewholmes.co.uk

© AB Holmes 2015, All rights reserved.

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Artist and Illustrator